If you’re not rich and you get sick, in which industrialized country are you likely to get the best treatment?
The conventional answer to this question has been: anywhere but the United States. With its many uninsured citizens and its relatively low life expectancy, the United States has been relegated to the bottom of international health scorecards.
But a prominent researcher, Samuel H. Preston, has taken a closer look at the growing body of international data, and he finds no evidence that America’s health care system is to blame for the longevity gap between it and other industrialized countries. In fact, he concludes, the American system in many ways provides superior treatment even when uninsured Americans are included in the analysis. . . .
This longevity gap, Dr. Preston says, is primarily due to the relatively high rates of sickness and death among middle-aged Americans, chiefly from heart disease and cancer. Many of those deaths have been attributed to the health care system, an especially convenient target for those who favor a European alternative.
But there are many more differences between Europe and the United States than just the health care system. Americans are more ethnically diverse. They eat different food. They are fatter. Perhaps most important, they used to be exceptionally heavy smokers. For four decades, until the mid-1980s, per-capita cigarette consumption was higher in the United States (particularly among women) than anywhere else in the developed world. Dr. Preston and other researchers have calculated that if deaths due to smoking were excluded, the United States would rise to the top half of the longevity rankings for developed countries.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
American health care system on par with others
John Tierney, New York Times:
Posted by Freeven at -- 3:29 PM